Magnetism-driven anomalous surface alloying between Cu and Cr

Kádas, K.; Lindquist, M.; Eriksson, O.; Johansson, B.; Vitos, L.
April 2009
Applied Physics Letters;4/27/2009, Vol. 94 Issue 17, p172507
Academic Journal
Cu–Cr contact materials are widely used as medium- and high-voltage vacuum interrupters. The microstructure of these materials is critical in their performance: the finer structure they have, the better are their physical properties. A solid solution of Cu and Cr could significantly increase the performance of such contact materials. However, Cu and Cr are practically immiscible in the bulk phase. Based on first principles density functional theory we show here that the solubility of Cr in Cu is dramatically increased on Cu surfaces already at room temperature and Cu–Cr alloys are formed on both the Cu(111) and Cu(100) surfaces. We demonstrate that the origin of this phenomenon is the unique magnetic properties of Cr atoms near surfaces.


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